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Getting to know patients, not just their symptoms
Naturopathic physicians ‘look at the whole person’

When patients come to see Dr. Kate D’Archangel at her Kingston office, they typically spend an entire hour with her. The naturopathic doctor not only talks with them about the concerns that brought them in, but tries to get a complete picture of what’s happening with them physically, mentally and emotionally.

“I look at the whole person, not just at the symptoms, to figure out a treatment plan,” she said. “I talk to patients a lot and ask a lot of questions to get the full range.”

This approach to looking at the whole person instead of the symptoms is what sets naturopathic medicine apart from traditional Western medicine — and is the best part of D’Archangel’s job.

“That personal connection is important,” she said. “It makes the work more fulfilling for me.”

Dr. D’Archangel (drdarchangel.com) has been in solo practice as a naturopathic physician for more than a decade. For the first five years, she shared an office in Silverdale with another naturopath. She moved to Kingston, closer to home, so she can balance being a mom and a physician.

Her practice is only open two days a week currently, and D’Archangel handles every aspect of the business herself, from scheduling patients to billing insurance.  While that puts more pressure on her time, it gives her an advantage as well.

“I like that patients come to me directly for anything,” she said.

Much like medical doctors, or MDs, naturopathic doctors (NDs) receive four or five years of medical training that includes a clinical internship. 

The first two years of study are similar for both paths, said D’Archangel — who, like many other local NDs, attended Bastyr University in Kenmore (north of Seattle), the largest accredited naturopathic school in North America. Instead of doing their clinical internship at a hospital, however, Bastyr medical students spend two years at the university teaching clinic.

In Washington state, naturopathic doctors, or NDs, can serve as primary care physicians and are licensed to prescribe almost any medications, except for things like narcotics. But their goal is to use less invasive, more natural methods, including prevention and nutrition, herbal medicine and homeopathy.

About half of D’Archangel’s patients come to her for primary care, including babies. Some travel from as far as Gig Harbor and Jefferson County. She treats conditions as broad as food allergies, high blood pressure, ear infections and gastrointestinal issues.

But what D’Archangel loves the most is helping her patients achieve better health. 

“I like the educational aspect and teaching people about healthier lifestyles,” she said. “Good nutrition is a key. I spend a lot of time educating and working on the nutritional piece.”

The overabundance of information about diet

and nutrition — often conflicting — has made it more challenging to discern good advice from fads. D’Archangel’s role becomes that of the navigator, but it’s not simply about giving people the basics (such as eating whole foods, plants and high-quality animal products; avoiding processed foods and making sure to drink plenty of water). 

“Nutrition is based on each person’s condition,” she said. “It’s very individualized.”

D’Archangel agrees that there’s been a growing interest in eating healthier but she said that doesn’t make it any easier for people to follow through on what they know is good for them. 

“People are busy and that’s a huge piece of it. They don’t have time to cook or shop that way, or they can’t afford it,” she said.

When it comes to healthy lifestyle, D’Archangel practices what she preaches. 

“You can’t tell someone to eat well and exercise and not do it yourself,” said the naturopath, who loves to garden and cook.

An avid runner who did marathons in graduate school, she is outside, running, five days a week in all weather. 

“It’s a good way to start my day and get my energy,” she said.

D’Archangel plans to add more hours to her practice when her youngest daughter enters kindergarten in two years. But for now, she is content devoting much of her time to family. And she’s found synergy in being a mom and being a physician. 

“I feel like I can work some and be a mom some,” she said. “Being a doctor makes me a more confident mom and being a mom makes me a more compassionate doctor.”

 

 
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